Published 7:37 pm Friday, October 22, 2021
Editor’s Note: The Suffolk News-Herald sent the same slate of questions to Commonwealth’s Attorney candidates Patrick Bales and Narendra Pleas. You can see the questions and their answers here. The candidates were advised that responses would not be edited, except to truncate answers at the end of the 100-word limit.
Why are you running for Commonwealth’s Attorney, and what makes you qualified for the position?
I have worked as a prosecutor for over 15 years, including eight here in Suffolk. I have served every community diligently and with a passion to administer justice. My work has included virtually every type of case: from child abuse to DUI to white collar crimes to sexual assault to homicide. I know what this job entails and, therefore, what is needed to make it better.
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I am running because we need to implement new ideas and programs to have more positive impact in the community; to better balance public safety and individual rights. The Time is Now!
What would be your top three priorities if elected, and why?
Institute pretrial services
Low-risk individuals charged with non-violent offenses would be released to pre-trial monitoring and supervision while their cases are pending.
Establish a mental health docket
Most mentally ill defendants do not pose a threat and jailing these defendants costs three times as much as community mental health services. A mental health docket will improve outcomes for these particular offenders and result in cost savings to Suffolk.
Prosecute Environmental Offenders
Trash and hazardous materials are being illegally dumped in Suffolk, polluting our city and requiring taxpayers to fund someone else’s clean-up. We will pursue and prosecute these environmental offenders.
What are the most critical issues facing the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, and how would you address them?
Most of the critical issues facing this office deal with the relationship of the prosecutor with, and within, the community. We need to build better, stronger relationships with our community. Ask tough questions such as, are we truly focusing on the crimes that do the most harm? What does the public need from this office to truly maintain public safety? We need to continually assess, and reassess, our priorities to gauge those things that are most important to keep our communities healthy and safe.
What will you do as Commonwealth’s Attorney to find ways to address the opioid crisis?
Fortunately, our community partners have been hard at work developing the foundation to establish a Drug Court in our Circuit, which includes the City of Suffolk. This means that defendants in Suffolk who have a drug addiction, and are non-violent and are not drug dealers, will have access to a court docket that focuses on treatment as opposed to punishment. While pursuing the opening of a Drug Court is close, it is not yet solidified. And, once established, it will require continued support from the Commonwealth’s Attorney. My office will fully support this Drug Court docket.
With Phil Ferguson having served for 44 years as the city’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, what lessons do you draw from his tenure?
As mentioned previously, having strong community connections are important. This office will maintain and expand its Community Outreach Program as it is an integral part of educating the community about the role of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. This would include continued participation in National Night Out, creating programs and resources for our local schools, hosting training for law enforcement, and generally being available to serve the needs of Suffolk residents. This will also include initiating a Data Dashboard which will allow the public track and analyze data, and gain deeper insight into the overall wellbeing of the office.